Re-Enchanted 2020

Piotrek: Wow! We made it through another year! The blog, that is, but the world as well, even if not in a great shape. Re-Enchantment did splendidly though, thanks mostly to Ola’s efforts, as I’ve been an infrequent contributor, certainly in the second half. And yet 2020 was quite good for me as far as reading goes, and not for the same reasons many people read more. Quite a bit of my reading used to be done in during commute, so working from home I had to change my habits just to keep up. And keep up I did, with a 102 GoodReads titles, as of December 14, and 32,281 pages – versus 81 titles and 30,233 in 2019.

Piotrek: How will we do in 2021? I’m not into divination, but I plan get better in time-management and create more posts. Still not as many as Ola, probably 😉 Apart from that, I’m not even making too many plans about my reading next year, we’ll see how it goes. One thing that seems probable – I might finally get a Kindle, and admit I cannot have all the books on my shelves.

Ola: I’ve absolutely no idea what 2021 will bring – but, as humans tend to (and that’s the main reason they largely cling to life as a species) I hope it will be better than 2020. What a year that was! A Chinese proverb – or rather a curse – come to life, and survived. So many aspects of our lives changed (hopefully temporarily) for worse, but we know all about them and there’s no need to bring these up again. I’d prefer to focus on positives instead :). 2020 was a great reading and blogging year for us here at Re-Enchantment, with many records broken and equally many firsts achieved. I signed up for NetGalley (and while this was a rather mixed bag for me reading-wise, as my reviews can attest) it was at the same time a very interesting learning experience and one I’ll be happy to continue. I also signed up for Goodreads, and I’m glad to say it’s going pretty well. Maintaining old bookish friendships and making new acquaintances is always a big positive for me, so in that respect GR serves as a valuable extension of our blog. And while I kept my stats anyway, in a customised Excel spreadsheet, it is indeed nice to have all the books read in a year presented in a pleasing infographic ;).

I got over 120 titles under my belt this year, mixing up a healthy amount of non-fiction (10%) and fiction (11%) into my usual genre and comic book reading. And I’m hoping to add a book or two to the list on my upcoming vacation :). As we did last year, this year we’ll have a separate post covering our best and worst reads of the year (and maybe some TV series too, though sadly not many movies ;)) too. In this one, we’ll focus a bit more on our blog stats.

In 2020, Re-Enchanted nearly doubled the last year’s stats when it comes to the number of visits (a whooping 15k), the number of comments (over 2.5k) and the number of likes (over 2.3k). We also had 10 more posts, 57 to date, than last year. As we drifted slowly toward longer posts, mainly reviews and a few fun tags, judging by the number of comments we seem to have found our sweet spot. The blogging friendships we made all over the world continue, and this year we cherish even more of them with new bloggers finding our blog and us finding theirs. Our number of followers almost doubled – thanks everyone! 🙂 But the 2020 wouldn’t be itself if it weren’t turbulent in every aspect of life, and so even our exceedingly bookish blog couldn’t stay apolitical as Polish politics barged uninvited into our lives.

Our most popular post in terms of views was Ola’s glowing review of Neal Asher’s The Line of Polity, garnering well above 300 views. It’s this year’s post, which is worth noting as the next two are comparative oldies: Ola’s scathing review of Ernest Cline’s Armada and the last year’s Re-E blockbuster, Roger Zelazny’s The Dream Master, which were both written back in 2016. The most popular posts are garnering more and more views through search engines, which is very encouraging as we keep building our repository of quirky, detailed, lengthy reviews ;).

We’ve also beat the 50 likes boundary this year. Our most popular posts in terms of likes were Piotrek’s Vacation Post, closely followed by Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic, Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas, Marie Brennan’s Driftwood, our lonely tag in this review-dominated field, Favorite books in five words, and Daniel Polansky’s The Seventh Perfection. As for the comments section, our most commented post was the review of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic (again), a highly enjoyable tribute to the Gothick tradition with a delightful fungal twist ;). With 76 comments it maintained its one-digit lead over Madeline Miller’s Circe and Brian McClellan’s Blood of Empire.

We have taken part in one concerted bookish effort this year, Wyrd and Wonder. It was a great adventure, and an unparalleled output for us with 7 posts in a month, but with so many things going on around us we weren’t able to celebrate any more similar events. Maybe next year 😉

Piotrek: I quess it was a year when people would get excited by even a mention of vacations 😉 I’m so happy I managed to squeeze that in between all the lockdowns… I have to admit I did not suffer too much in this troubled year.

It’s been a very good year for the blog, no doubt. Apart from the editor monstrosity WordPress forced on its users – we all still hate that with a passion, it goes without saying. But here we’re allowing ourselves a well-deserved celebration, so we’re not going to spoil the mood :). And next week we intend to go deeper into our best of/worst of lists for 2020 🙂

Ernest Cline, Armada (2015)

cline_armada

I could sum up this review with one short sentence: this is one of the worst, the most shameless and cringe-worthy case of Mary Sue-ism I have ever read, even worse than Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. Period.

But that would be unfair to all the readers. When you see such an authoritative assertion, you want to know the reasons for it. All right. Here they come.

Cline’s second novel, Armada, describes an alien invasion on Earth. Just like in most of the books and movies you’ve ever seen: the bad aliens swoop down from the heavens to wreak havoc and kill innocent lives. More, it’s EXACTLY like most of the books and movies you’ve seen, because Cline shamelessly rips off everything that there is to be ripped off, from Star Wars and Star Trek to Top Gun, Iron Eagle, The Last Starfighter, Rocky and even Snoopy… To say that his novel is full of allusions and references would be to say nothing at all. His novel is comprised solely of those worn, well-loved but equally well-known, simple and obvious themes and motifs. It could be construed as plagiarism, but Cline doesn’t hide his inspirations, on the contrary. So if you’re worried you wouldn’t catch all the references, don’t: Cline will spell them out for you, in big, bold, sparkling letters. He will shovel them in your mouth and watch you gag. It could have been nerds’ heaven, but instead is some kind of exceptionally terrible hell. Not even purgatory, because you know that there your punishment would end. Here – not really. Since the opening sentences to the very end, full of monuments and inscriptions and medals, the whole novel is one dragging, unending, nerdy Mary Sue wet dream. (Yeah, I’m not really into that Marty Stu stuff. Mary Sue covers both sexes perfectly well.) Alas, what to expect from a guy who drives DeLorean?

cline_delorean

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Ernest Cline, Ready Player One (2011)

ready-player-oneA YA book that made a lot of fuss in recent years, especially after Steven Spielberg announced that he would direct the movie adaptation (production is supposed to begin in spring this year). The book received the Alex Award and 2012 Prometheus Award, and was praised by many as the ultimate geek novel.

I admit I find it difficult to rate a novel like this. Ready Player One is undeniably YA; more YA than most YA novels I’ve read, Robin McKinley’s works included. My awareness of this fact pushes me toward applying a different set of rules to my rating than I would otherwise do – and that’s not something I want. I don’t think YA literature should be viewed as inherently worse or limited; though, undeniably, some themes usually are portrayed in a simplistic way and others are entirely missing. That’s perfectly understandable but doesn’t help in the least in solving my quandary.

So, after this rather lengthy disclaimer… What the fuss is really about?

Continue reading “Ernest Cline, Ready Player One (2011)”